EXPLAINER: What does the Saudi anti-harassment draft bill consist of?

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The anti-harassment crime draft bill which the Saudi Shura Council approved on Monday consists of eight items to combat harassment.

The draft-bill’s penalty against those who commit the crime of harassment is prison for up to two years and paying a fine worth 100,000 SAR ($26,600) or either of these two. The prison sentence can be increased to maximum five years and paying a fine worth 300,000 SAR ($80,000) or either of these two in specific cases.

Anyone who incites someone or agrees with someone or aids someone to commit a harassment crime will also be punished.

The draft-bill’s second item stipulated the purpose of the bill and which is punishing harassers, protecting victims and protecting people’s dignity and personal freedom that are guaranteed by the provisions of Islamic Sharia and rules.

The third item stipulated that in the case of the victim’s waiver of legal rights or decision not to file a complaint, the relevant authorities can still do what they see fit to serve public interest according to the provisions of the Law of Criminal Procedure and other laws. It added that anyone who witnesses molestation must inform the authorities so take action as they sees fit.

According to the draft-bill, those who have access to information in molestation cases must respect confidentiality as it’s not permitted to reveal the name of the victim unless when it’s deemed necessary by the inference, investigation and trial procedures.

The draft-bill also necessitates that relevant departments in the governmental and private sectors set measures to prevent and combat molestation at workplaces and to include a mechanism to receive complaints and validate their authenticity. These departments must hold anyone who commits the crime of molestation accountable and must take the necessary disciplinary measures against them. The victim, however, can still file a complaint against the harasser at the relevant authorities.

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